There are probably few bankers in the country who understand the challenges of digital transformation better than Mike Butler. It’s a journey that Butler has been on for the last several years. It has been unlikely journey as well, because Butler started out his career as a traditional banker and later became president for national consumer finance at Cleveland, KeyCorp.
Butler’s transformation started at First Trade Union Bancorp, a federally chartered thrift in Boston that was once owned by two pension funds. He joined the bank as CEO in 2008 but wasn’t able to start executing on a digital-first strategy until 2014. Over the next several years, Butler oversaw the radical transformation of that thrift into a tech-forward consumer bank. Renamed Radius Bancorp, it sold to LendingClub Corp. in 2020.
Even when he was at KeyCorp, Butler saw digital as the future of banking and he wanted to put that into practice. “I’d rather be where the future is than the past, and I’d rather take a chance on trying to build the organization for what I thought the future was going to be like,” he told Bank Director in a 2016 interview.
Butler is now on his second transformational journey, this time as CEO of Grasshopper Bancorp, a digital bank based in New York that focuses on small businesses and the innovation economy. Like consumer, Butler believes the small business market is ripe for disruption by tech-forward banks.
In this edition of the Slant podcast, Butler shares his experiences at Radius and Grasshopper, talks about what he has learned including the importance of culture, people and passion, and offers advice to other bankers who have embarked on the same journey towards innovation.